HitFix Interview: Francesca Hogi talks 'Survivor: Redemption Island'
The season's first fully eliminated contestant explains what went wrong
Thanks to multiple All-Star installments, a long list of "Survivor" contestants have been eliminated multiple times over the years, a list that includes some of the most popular contestants in the show's history.
On Wednesday night, though, Francesca Hogi joined an exclusive (but sure to grow in the weeks to come) club of contestants eliminated twice in the same season.
In the season's first week, Francesca was voted out at a contentious Tribal Council when Former Federal Agent Phillip upended a seemingly well-conceived plan to topple a key piece of Boston Rob's alliance. Although her torch was snuffed, Francesca was shuffled off to Redemption Island where, after spending an episode in isolation, she faced off against newly booted Matt and lost in the season's first Arena Duel.
As I've done in seasons past, I'll be talking to each week's eliminated contestant. Thanks to the Redemption Island twist I didn't have exit interviews for the first two episodes and at least for the foreseeable future, each of my interviews will be with castaways who had to suffer the ignominy of two different eliminations.
Click through for my chat with Francesca...
HitFix: So we've now watched you be eliminated from "Survivor" two times in three weeks. What's it been like for you watching that?
Francesca Hogi: Oh man. When you say it like that, you make it sound like I'm really bad at "Survivor," Dan. I actually didn't watch the first episode, nor did I watch the second episode, so I only actually watched last night's episode. So I only saw myself eliminated once. And that duel, it was a good duel, don't you think? My heart was racing a little bit watching it and I knew how it ended. It was a surreal experience.
HitFix: Did you choose not to watch the first two episodes, or did you just have better things to do?
FH: I chose not to watch. I was like, "Eh. I know what happens." Tribal Council, I knew what a fiasco it was. I didn't want to see it all played out again. You know how you don't even like to hear your own voice on an answering machine or something? It's like that times a thousand.
HitFix: You mentioned the Redemption Island duel. You got out to that big lead. Then what happened?
FH: That's why I was really curious to watch last night, because I kinda wanted to see what happened. It all happened so fast and before I knew it, it was like, "What? It's over? I lost? What? Really? No! That didn't really just happen!" Yeah. I don't know. I think the foundation of my stick was not as strong and probably the fact that I was able to get two keys off with it probably wound up hurting me. Then I just thought I could add onto it and it would hold, but it didn't. So I had to start over again and that gave Matt time to catch up. But if you're going to lose to anyone, Matt is the guy you want to lose to. He's such a sweetheart and he and I really bonded out there on Redemption Island. We were together for a couple days. As sad as I was for myself, I was that happy for Matt, especially after how he was blindsided.
HitFix: So what was Redemption Island actually like?
FH: The night that I got there, it was rough. It was very late and I was extremely tired. We'd had an extremely long Tribal Council, like two-and-half-hours, two hours of which was me and Phillip fighting with each other. So I was extremely thirsty, dehydrated, tried. And I get there and there's a roof, but it's got gaping holes in it. There's a shelter, but it's filled with broken planks and rocks. So I had to clear all of that out and I had to make myself a bed and make myself a bit of a shell to protect me from the wind and the rain, because there were no walls and no protection from that. So it started out rough. The whole first day I was there, I was just trying to improve the shelter, collecting firewood and cooking rice. And doing all of that stuff by yourself, it's rough. It's not easy to do that when you're part of a tribe and everybody's working together. But having said that, the isolation... I think if I'd had a normal Tribal Council that didn't just devolve into such a fiasco, I might not have been as fed up with everyone and everything as I was feeling. Because I was feeling fed up, I was glad to be alone and I was glad to be away from everyone for a few days.
HitFix: How long do you think that would have lasted, that being glad to be alone? Did you have a coping strategy for what would have happened if you'd been there for two weeks or something?
FH: You know, I didn't. I was trying to take it one day at a time. Once Matt got there, he and I, we got along really well. We were like, "Hey, we could just stay here together and go back into the game together. That would be great." But yeah. It definitely would have been rough to stay out there. Probably after like a week or so out there, I probably would have been really fed up, but I hadn't gotten to that point yet. I was still doing OK after four or five days. But oh well. It was not meant to be. I've had time to recover from the trauma of it all.
HitFix: Plus, Matt and whoever came after had a nice camp because of all of the effort that you put into cleaning things up!
FH: It's funny, because before Matt got there, I was like, "When I leave, I'm gonna torch this place! Why should anyone else get the benefit of all of my work here?" But it was Matt, so I'm like, "OK. If Matt beats me, I don't want sabotage Matt, cuz I'm really gonna root for Matt." But I did tell him, I said, "If you win, you need to make sure that if you think you're going to lose that duel, you do not leave everything like this. You've gonna make whoever comes after you work for it." The thing is that I had no idea how long Redemption Island lasts, how many weeks or whatever, but by the end, Redemption Island could be a pretty cushy place. If everybody just keeps on improving it and improving it.
HitFix: You've made multiple references to the Tribal Council "fiasco." So everything was going perfectly well. Absolutely according to plan. And then it wasn't. Do you think there was something specific that set Phillip off, or was Phillip just Phillip?
FH: I think Phillip was just Phillip. I think Phillip had it in for me. He and I had already been clashing. Phillip just didn't like me. I don't remember exactly what set him off, but it was something I think pretty innocuous. I think it was just an excuse. I think Phillip just wanted to be heard and Phillip wanted to have his moment. And I wouldn't listen and I think that just set him off even more and it just turned into the fiasco that played out. But I don't think that had anything to do with why I was voted out. It was, in the end, all pretty unnecessary. But I guess it did make good television.
HitFix: It absolutely did. And has it led to a dramatic rise in friends and loved ones calling you "Franchesqua"?
FH: Not my friends and loved ones. Just the fact that I was like, "Oh yeah. I'm on 'Survivor.' Don't tell anyone." Just the fact that I wasn't having a viewing party or anything... They were like, "You really hated that guy. I could really tell how much you didn't like him." I think they didn't want to tease me about it. But I've had a lot of other people calling me "Franchesqua." But it's OK. I'm getting immune to it at this point.
HitFix: Let's go back to the very beginning. You obviously had a sense of what game you wanted to play when you arrived. What was that strategy going to be and then what did the introduction of Boston Rob do to your plans?
FH: My strategy going into the game was just to try to get along with everyone, to try to be an asset to my tribe and work well with everyone. Obviously I think I shot myself in the foot by making whatever comment I made at the beach when Boston Rob and Russell arrived. I think it was misinterpreted as me not wanting to play with Rob, which was not how I felt, not what I said and certainly not what I meant. I would have been happy to align with Rob. That was actually my plan once Rob was on my Tribe. I was like, "OK. I want to be in an alliance with Boston Rob." I mean, I would have voted him out eventually, but I certainly wasn't gunning for him from the get-go. He's an asset to have around. But that's not how it worked out and I think it was a combination of things. It was probably the comment I made and him interpreting it how he did and just the other people on my tribe who didn't say anything like that and were very doe-eyed and happy to really just do whatever Rob said. It's not that I didn't. Rob and I got along really well. He and I didn't clash at all, in terms of our interaction at camp. It was just not meant to be.
I ended up in an alliance with Kristina and Phillip by default. I thought that I would have more time to get myself in a better position. I thought that my relationship with Andrea and Matt and Ashley and Rob -- I got along with them really well, had a good rapport with them -- I thought that was going to be enough to keep me safe for a little bit, but in the end, it was not.
HitFix: As a last question, a game of "What if..." So Kristina finds an Idol and comes to you and lets you know about it. From that point, how could you have played things differently to turn the tide of the game from the beginning?
FH: I think there was nothing I could have done except for to try to get her to give it to me. Once Kristina had that Idol, she became very determined to vote out Rob. She saw this as her big opportunity. She saw how devoted his alliance was to him and I don't think she felt like she would ever have another opportunity to get them to turn on him before they would vote her out. I can understand her having that position, but I still thought that it was short-sighted and not good for the tribe and that it would just make everyone hate her and vote her out next and it would be like, "What's the point?" But she was determined to do that. I tried to talk her out of voting Rob. I thought that I successfully had talked her out of voting Rob. And she'd go away and she'd come back and she'd say, "I want to vote out Rob" and I'd be like, "We talked about this! We're voting out Natalie." She'd be like "You're right." And then she'd come back and she said, "I told Phillip about the Idol." And I'm like, "Why did you do that?!?" The whole thing just spun out of control. But I didn't have a lot of options at that point, so all I could do was hope that Rob's alliance was going to vote Kristina and I could convince Kristina to vote Natalie and if Rob's alliance had all voted Kristina and Kristina had played her Idol and she and I had voted Natalie, then that's all we would have have needed. But obviously things didn't turn out that way.